A crushing loss: Heat 103, Bulls 74

D-Wade wasnt smiling because he was happy to be back in Chicago.

D-Wade wasn't smiling because he was happy to be back in Chicago.

Going into last night’s game against the Heat, I was expecting one of the Bulls’ best efforts of the season. I really was. Consider the circumstances: Playoffs on the line, pride at stake after that tough loss in Miami a couple weeks back, and of course the mini-audition for free-agent-to-be Dwyane Wade. Sure, Luol Deng (strained calf) is still out and Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) is far from 100 percent, but this team has been bouncing back from injuries all season.

Instead of bouncing, the Bulls hit rock bottom with a sickening thud.

Instead of a spirited, competitive effort, Chicago fans were witnesses to what may have been the Bulls’ worst loss of the season. Yes, worse than their home defeat to the eight-win New Jersey Nets. Yes, worse even than the time they collapsed after building a 35-point lead against the Sacrameto Kings.

This epic fail isn’t just about the numbers, although those are pretty bad. The Bulls shot just 32 percent (including 28 percent in the first half) while the Heat hit nearly 52 percent of their field goals (including over 60 percent during the first 24 minutes). Chicago had just three fast break points and got outscored 52-28 in the paint. Miami got to the rim at will, scoring 18 layups and 4 dunks. The Heat led 63-33 at halftime and 86-49 after three quarters, and their biggest lead was 39. Those 74 points represented the Bulls’ lowest scoring game of the season. The 29-point margin was Miami’s second-largest victory of the season and Chicago’s second-worst.

And, of course, Derrick Rose went out of his way to prove he might actually be overrated by going 5-for-16 and finishing with a game-worst plus-minus score of -33.

Even those ugly stats don’t properly illustrate how listless the Bulls were last night. I’ve seen more fight in preseason games. I’ve seen more fight during a game of checkers. I’ve seen more fight during Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies. I’ve seen more fight during a nap. Guys just didn’t bring it. And that fact didn’t escape coach Vinny Del Negro.

Said Vinny: “No good answer for anything. They just attacked us with O’Neal and Beasley. … We did not have enough fight in us tonight. We beat each other up more in practice than we did the opponent tonight. That is the frustrating part — their effort was better, their energy was better and that is why they beat us up.”

Added Taj Gibson: “They really punched us in the mouth tonight.”

Not even members of the Heat could believe how cakey this particular walk through Chicago was. Jermaine O’Neal — who led the Heat with a game-high 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting — said: “We were a little shocked. We talked about it a little bit on the bench. Especially all the conversation that was kind of here in the papers and stuff like that, their struggles and the importance of the game for them, also. … We were prepared for a fight.”

Too bad the Bulls weren’t prepred to fight.

This loss wasn’t just a blow — perhaps a near-fatal blow? — to Chicago’s playoff hopes. It was the worst-possible audition for Wade and other potential free agents. Because that’s the Bulls’ end goal, right? Luring Wade or someone like Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh or Joe Johnson to the Windy City this summer. That’s why they traded John Salmons and the right to switch picks in the 2010 NBA draft to the Milwaukee Bucks for about $6 million in extra cap space: To be competitive in the upcoming free agent market, which promises to be one of the best ever.

But the Bulls also need to compete on the court. Those players are going to be offered money by several teams, including their own. Why would any of them give up a winning situation for something that looked so hapless last night? Because Chicago winters are so awesome? I don’t think so.

The Bulls have lost 11 of 13 games — including a 10-game losing streak — and are in ninth place in the East…2 1/2 games behind the eighth place Toronto Raptors. But forget the playoffs. This team needs to start playing like their future depends on competing in every game, because it really kind of does.

More By The Horns:
Check out ESPN’s Daily Dime for the Daily Dime Live Recap (where I tried to joke and eat my way through last night’s ugly loss) and BTH’s supplementary piece “Bulls Routed By Heat.”

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos

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14 Responses to A crushing loss: Heat 103, Bulls 74

  1. Ryan March 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    That was a mess of a game. I keep thinking back to the play when JJ was on a 1 on 3 fast break (the score was 10-10) and pulled up for a jumper with no Bulls even in the frame – he missed. From there the Bulls couldn’t get it together. I kept waiting for someone to step up or something to happen… crickets chirping. A weak effort for a very BIG game.

    I think the Bulls were geared up to double Wade, and to focus on Wade for the entire game. They forgot that there were four other players too. Wade just threw no look after no look pass to open defenders. O’neal knew there was no big man that could really guard him (Taj got abused, Brad is not athletic enough, and Noah has no conditioning). Even Q Rich showed Flip the ropes down in the post – you got to hammer someone if they go back to it more than twice. That was the worst game I have watched the Bulls play in a very very long.

  2. sixthman3@hotmail.com'
    Kevin March 26, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    The only good thing that happened as a result of last night was the re-affirming I had that I am a Bulls fan. While most of fans who left this team back when MJ left would just shrug at last night’s score, I felt pain. It hurt. I really dislike the Heat. I don’t know if it’s the Pat Riley’s arrogance and unlikeability that seems to seep through them since he’s been with them or the rivalry we’ve had in recent playoffs, but I don’t like them. I was begging for the Bulls to at least start playing a little rough with them last night, but they couldn’t even seem to muster that up. I know this is a sort of rebuilding year but you can still show some passion – some balls, if you will, when you’re out there. There’s no rebuilding when it comes to that

  3. chad March 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    Big surprise, we’re not going to the playoffs. We suck, our only chance is to win the lottery again, cause no one would wanna play on this team. Deng is hurt every year. Hinrich is a second line scorer every year since getting his contract. Noah is going to be hurt almost all the time. Gibson too, but atleast he plays through the pain. Deng will never last a season without taking a few weeks or months off due to a little pain. Vinny is an idiot letting Noah get hurt worse just so they could beat Portland, causing them to lose the next 10 games. Rose is shooting too many 22 footers nowadays when he should drive to the basket, but fears getting knocked down and injured again. Brad Miller is 95 years old. Acie Law is who knows. James Johnson is even more erratic and inconsistent than Tyrus. Finally I agree with Charles Barkely, that we really are no good.

  4. chad March 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    we terrrrrrrrrrible

  5. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage March 26, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    I only watched about 10 minutes of action last night and that was enough to ruin my night. We looked all out terrible! And I have an idea… IF WERE NOT GOING TO PLAY NOAH OVER 20 MINUTES A NIGHT then just shut him down because 10 minutes is not enough especially with Deng out. If he can play then play him if not shut him down now. I’m so sick after watching last night performance that I am better off stop talking about it.

  6. fernandez@gmail.com'
    Surya Fernandez March 26, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Sorry for leaving you early on the Daily Dime Chat. I felt like Wedge leaving Luke in the death star trench before it blew up. And the Bulls were Porkins.

  7. Ryan March 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    Chad,

    I despise your first post, but have to somewhat agree. The second post, Hilarious.

  8. stephenonks17@hotmail.com'
    steve March 26, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    horrible night to say the least. am I the only one thinking bout drafting Omar Samhan?

  9. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 27, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    and, when are they going to wake up to the fact that Jermaine O’Neal loves playing against us, for some reason. Man, he gets up for our games. It’s too true. I couldn’t believe how overtly listless they were. So bizarre.

    One thing: There is no need to call out JJ for ‘being more erratic than Thomas. Yes, JJ the rookie is more erratic than Thomas the 4th year player. The kid is trying to step in and add something to this team with almost no reps this season. Yes, I’m overly defensive for the kid, but I used to defend Thomas in a similar way. With Deng being Deng, we are going to need JJ in a big way. A dirt cheap, multi-tasking baller.

    (damnit that game hurt.)

  10. david g March 27, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    F U chad. noah isn’t gonna be injured forever. same as gibson. hinrich is the shit. he plays with heart and is a great leader for our team.
    this is a practice year for rose. this off season he worked on his midrange game, he is sending a message to the league that they got to respect that. i hear he wants to work on his 3 this summer, and once he’s got that he will be un-defendable!!!!
    brad miller may be an old awkward goon, but if he agrees to sign for cheap, he makes some great filler. same as deng. i don’t see vinny or law as part of our future, so whatever. and i don’t agree that JJ is Tyrus-minded yet, but i do suspect that you’re right about that.
    but basically you gotta have faith. this may kinda kill my whole argument, but i think chicago is gonna be kind of a sports mecca for a bit, soon. i’m thinking the chicago team owners had a secret meeting and decided to plan everything for what would have been the year we should have gotten the olympics. Bulls, Hawks, Bears, Sox all winning their championships the same year! yah dig?

  11. Ryan March 27, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    David G,
    I don’t dig! How are the Sox and Cubs both winning the Championship? Sox can have the ALCS, and we can let the Cubs get one year… please?

    I liked your post, but compared to Chad it was the glass is half enpty/the glass is half full. Chad had the downer side and you showed the upside. Combine those together to get a ‘middle of the road’ post.

  12. kudos@hotmail.com'
    kudos March 27, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    DAVID G – If Rose worked on his midrange game this summer, how come he still sucks at it??? Rose is overrated as a star, which he isn’t. He’s probably the most athletic pg in the whole nba, but his skills are seriously lacking. He isn’t a very good passer. And his defense against Rondo in the playoffs last year was abismal. (how do you let anyone, let alone RONDO average a trip double?) If you watch the Bulls, you’ll see Rose saves all of his energy for offense. Which is all he is. A SCORER. They need a playmaker, or Rose needs to sit down.

  13. chad March 29, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    thank you miami for coming back to beat toronto. i am glad to be near the 8th playoff spot again, the bulls looked pretty good against two of the worst teams. atleast they took care of business instead of playing down to their competition again. even pargo had a career game, followed by a usual crappy game. even ronald had a good game today. now back to facing a good team, maybe we have a chance if rose can get 32 points like he did last time we played phoenix, we have had some success against phoenix in the recent past. i have no idea what to expect, we need noah to be playing a lot more minutes if we are going to beat any good teams. we also need him to not injure himself doing it. i still don’t think we’re going to the playoffs cause the bad bulls will probably show up a few more times this season. but we have put ourselves in position to have a chance. the effort needs to be there every game, and we need to get healthier quick. when rose is having a bad game and our defense is too, we will need Deng to play and hit some shots and drive to the basket. but noah is even more important than Deng, having someone who can rebound will stop other teams from getting second chance opportunities and scoring over 100 points against us. we are going to have to learn to beat some teams we have had trouble with. when we play toronto we need to win, we have already lost the tiebreaker against them, so we need to end up with a better record than toronto to make the playoffs. that or we need to beat charlotte both times and hope charlotte loses a couple other games too. but i am sure we will lose to charlotte atleast once, tyrus will get even. if we are healthy and somehow get that 8th seed, we may have a chance against cleveland. we beat cleveland once this year, though that was when we had salmons and tyrus. but we only lost to them by 7 last time and noah and deng were out. so if everyone’s healthy we should beat them a few times, depending how good jamison does. but still, it will not be easy to make the playoffs. i’m afraid in a couple days i may be calling them terrrible again, and saying “we aren’t goin to the playoffs please win the lottery and get evan turner.” we’ll see. but i’m also not too confident in the other chicago teams. cubs need more pitching, and probably coulda used andrew jones. byrd will be ok, but not great. fukudome will be crap as always. we need a lot of young players to be good, cause soriano, lee, zambrano, ramirez all are getting older and getting hurt more. soriano pretty much sucks. white sox look to be better with some good pitching and andrew jones and some good young players. bears had some promise, till they got rid of 2 of their best defenders just to have room for the 1 guy who is great now but is going to be old soon. doesn’t look like we are much better than last year, unless we get a good guy in the secondary and some offensive linemen, and teach hester to return 10 touchdowns a year again.

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